St Mark's College opens junior primary sensory garden

As St Mark’s College reception students Lexi Gebert, Grace Bailey and Lucas Congdon moved around the school’s new junior primary sensory garden last Wednesday, they could hardly contain their excitement.

PUMPED: St Mark's College year 1 students Lexi Gebert, Grace Bailey and Lucas Congdon test out the new water pump installed in the junior primary sensory garden.

PUMPED: St Mark's College year 1 students Lexi Gebert, Grace Bailey and Lucas Congdon test out the new water pump installed in the junior primary sensory garden.

With their eyes wide the three students bounded from the water pump to the sandpit, taking in their new surrounds with every step.

St Mark’s College Benedict campus curriculum coordinator and junior primary teacher Kylie Capurso said the idea of the sensory garden was to encourage learning in a more hands-on environment. 

“They get to explore ... they get to collaborate, get along with each other and problem-solve but all in an outdoor setting,” Kylie said.

“They get to develop motor-skills like running, climbing, digging and jumping.

“Kids learn through their senses so we’ve really aimed to provide a sensory garden where there is lots to touch and taste.”

Kylie said that the college’s goal in junior primary years was to encourage the students to be deep thinkers. 

“This garden provides many opportunities for the students to wonder and be inquisitive,” she said.

“Already, the students have been asking questions like, ‘how does the water move down the rocks and into the sand pit?’ and, ‘why do trees have different shaped leaves?’

“It has already sparked so many questions, imagination and creativity from the students.”

The garden includes a water pump, sandpit, large rocks, a stage area, mandarin tree as well as garden beds for vegetable plants and flowers.

Kylie said the variety of installations in the garden were designed to encourage young students to be inquisitive – a skill which they can then take back to their traditional classroom studies.

“Bringing all those elements out we hope to see a lift in students learning in their own ways,” she said.

Students in reception, year one and year two will get the chance to utilise the garden and also get the opportunity to shape its uses.

Kylie said students had already offered up imaginative new ideas for an old theatre prop in the garden, including turning it into a mini garden, a race car track and a multi-dimensional piece of play equipment.

The garden was designed by college groundsman Paul Cagney in collaboration with junior primary staff, school principal Greg Hay and business manager Dominic LoBasso. 

As Lexi, Grace and Lucas sat on the rocks near the sandpit after undertaking their exploration, all three gave a ‘double thumbs-up’ in appreciation of the garden.

A resounding tick of approval for the sensory garden which is set to engage young students for years to come.